ViacomCBS to sell famous Studio City TV lot for $ 1.85 billion

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ViacomCBS has reached a $ 1.85 billion deal to sell the CBS Studio Center complex in Studio City, home to iconic TV shows such as “Seinfeld,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Gilligan’s Island,” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia “.

Real estate investors Hackman Capital Partners and Square Mile Capital Management have teamed up to win a tender for the 55-acre Radford Avenue property.

The sky-high price points to the value – and scarcity – of TV soundstages in Los Angeles as content producers scramble to find space to shoot TV shows and movies to store their streaming services. ViacomCBS announced its intention to sell the property last summer.

The deal, announced Tuesday, represents one of the largest real estate deals ever for a Los Angeles television studio complex. In addition to the real estate assets, CBS will divest its lucrative studio operating business, which includes stage rentals, facilities management and field production support services.

“We are honored to have been chosen as the new managers of CBS Studio Center, one of Los Angeles’ most famous and successful studios,” said Michael Hackman, Founder and CEO of Hackman Capital Partners, in a press release.

The studio has been a successful manufacturer since the days of ‘Gunsmoke’, ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ and ‘Seinfeld’, and we are delighted to continue our ongoing relationship with ViacomCBS to serve its many hit shows currently filmed on the terrain, ”Hackman added.

Hackman Capital Partners is one of the world’s largest providers of entertainment production facilities. It currently has four studios in the Los Angeles area, as well as facilities in New York, New Orleans, London and Scotland. In 2019, Hackman Capital bought CBS’s other sprawling Los Angeles complex – the 25-acre Television City that adjoins the Original Farmers Market and The Grove – for $ 750 million.

Hackman Capital recently announced plans for $ 1.25 billion in improvements to Television City that will add sound stages, production support facilities and office space for rent. The company’s plans for the Studio City complex have yet to be disclosed.

Hackman Capital also owns the Manhattan Beach Studios Media Campus and the historic Culver Studios in Culver City, where “Gone with the Wind” and “ET” were filmed. Amazon Studios now operates from the site. Earlier this year, Hackman Capital Partners purchased the Sony Pictures Animation campus in Culver City.

To complete the deal for the Radford Lot, privately held Los Angeles-based Hackman Capital has partnered with Square Mile Capital Management, a New York-based real estate and management firm that co-owns all of Hackman’s studios. .

The two Los Angeles-based CBS television stations, KCBS-TV (Channel 2) and KCAL-TV (Channel 9), are hosted at the CBS Broadcast Center on Radford grounds, and the local news operation will remain in operation. place under a long-term long lease, ViacomCBS said.

CBS, which acquired ownership of Republic Pictures in the 1960s, will continue to occupy the stages and produce content on the Radford Field. At least three CBS-produced shows, “Big Brother,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “The Talk,” will remain on the site.

For 13 years, the Radford property has been the home of CBS television station on the West Coast. He intends to lease back office space to new owners until at least June, CBS chief executive George Cheeks said in a memo. The company plans to move workers to new locations, primarily in the ViacomCBS office building on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street in Hollywood.

CBS Studio Center, just north of Ventura Boulevard, offers 18 traditional sound stages and four more stages. The site also has approximately 210,000 square feet of production office space and its own factory to provide carpentry services, a paint shop, a commissary and a car wash. It has a backlot with a “Central Park” and a “New York Street” with 11 building facades, including four brownstones. It also includes mock residential neighborhoods with a mishmash of houses of different architectural styles.

CBS sold Television City to Hackman Capital in early 2019. That same year, Warner Bros. agreed to sell its historic North Hollywood Way facility in Burbank, known as The Ranch.

The new owners of the Ranch grounds will be redeveloping the property with 16 new soundstages, as part of a wave of studio development in recent years to add soundstages and production facilities to meet demand from old and new alike. entertainment creators. In early November, NBCUniversal announced it would build eight new stages as part of a major development to boost production at its famous Universal Studios park.

Since Viacom and CBS merged nearly two years ago, the New York-based company has abandoned iconic CBS properties in a bid to generate cash. Last summer, it sold CBS’s iconic New York skyscraper known as “Black Rock” to a private company, Harbor Group International, for $ 760 million. The Midtown Manhattan Granite Tower, designed by Eero Saarinen, has served as CBS’s headquarters since 1965.

Cheeks, in his memo to staff, said the sale of the Radford lot “is part of a strategic plan to consolidate the company’s real estate footprint, bring the teams together in centralized locations and lead the business. proceeds from those sales to more top-notch content. “

Most employees should expect to return to Radford “when we return to a mostly hybrid work model, starting Jan. 10 or whatever designated date determined by your divisions,” Cheeks said in the note. He noted that most of the employees at CBS Entertainment, CBS Studios, and CBS Media Ventures would join other ViacomCBS teams already in the six-story building in Hollywood that was completed in 2016.

A year ago, ViacomCBS also announced a deal to sell its book publishing house, Simon & Schuster, to Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House for $ 2.18 billion. But earlier this month, the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block the deal on antitrust grounds.

The Radford complex was the very grounds of the studio that gave birth to the Studio City name.

Its sale is expected to close by the end of the year. JLL’s real estate brokers Carl Muhlstein and Kevin MacKenzie facilitated the transaction for ViacomCBS, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“With ViacomCBS maintaining a significant presence on the property, we anticipate a smooth ownership transition and many more great years to come,” said Craig Solomon, Managing Director of Square Mile Capital.


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